Working together…

Josh and I's basket 2014 005It’s been many years since this Easter Basket Collection outreach started.  And much time has past since God gave me the vision to start Families Building Faith.  At that time, my son was four years old going on five.

The vision that He had given me had sprung in part from my own situation.  Longing to know Him better and desiring to walk daily (in the sense of more than just on Sundays) with others who had the same heart for Him, He laid before me the idea of a network of believers who would come together to strengthen faith.  In the breadth of that view was also those we live life with…it was never meant to be solely about our individual experiences.  That somehow by growing, stretching and building our own faith, God’s light and love would spill over into their hearts and lives.  Kind of like a pebble being dropped into a pond, the ripples keep expanding as the waves move outward from the entry point of the rock impacting the water.  As we walk closer with God, was it possible that light, faith and hope would be the ripple effects touching those around us?

So my four year old went in tow with me on this journey to build and grow faith.  He rode in the car as we delivered food, blankets, baskets, clothes, toys and so many other things.  He played at Bible studies and as he grew older, he entertained himself when I needed to work on something.  He listened to me talk with others and listened to them share their stories with me.  He helped carry items up and down stairs, loaded cars, and gracefully and kindly spoke to those who passed through our lives.  As he grew and became more of a young man, there were the inevitable moments of deep sighs, “Do I have to?”s, and frustration-filled comments when he tired of what God has asked our family to do.  Yet, more times than not, he is there faithfully alongside my husband and I.

Josh and I's basket 2014 001It is funny how each session of serving often brings me something new to learn.  Honestly, there are many lessons each season.  For years, I have been emphasizing to parents that their children truly love to serve with them.  Their eyes, their hands and the enthusiasm in their voices share how much they want their parents to see and believe in what they are doing for another.  Rarely does an Easter assembly happen that the child isn’t bouncing off of the walls to show their parents what they have created.  They don’t want to be just dropped off and picked up.  Nor does being present in the same room but talking with another adult for the majority of the time necessarily convey to them that the parent really cares.  Nor does being hovered over or continually questioned as they build their baskets.  Instead, what we see is this strong desire to build and work with their parent or caretaker…for their parent to actively engage and share in their excitement through thoughtful and sincere encouragement, kind instruction, and lots of joyful affirmations.  I find myself deeply committed to the idea that this outreach truly offers families of all ages a chance to not only serve together, but to grow together…

And there the lesson stood toe-to-toe with me last night looking me right in the eye.  I was working in the basement sorting through donations that had come in.  My son, now many years older, was upstairs relaxing.  A bit later, down the stairs, I heard his steps.  Within short order, he was at my side chattering about his latest adventure, what he hopes to learn to improve his game, and his latest set of goals.  He spoke for quite awhile as I listened and sorted.  A couple of times, he mentioned that he took a break specifically because he wanted to come downstairs and help, and then his conversation would turn back to what it was before.  Now and then, I would hand him something to help with.  As my tasks came to an end, he stated he would like to build a basket.

Now,  he builds lots of amazing baskets.  We don’t force him to build each session as we don’t want him to hate Easter nor this outreach.  We also don’t force him to always carry items up nor necessarily engage in all that we do as teens battle enough things in life that offer opportunities for resentment and bitterness; we surely don’t want to add to that.  But many times, he will come downstairs during an assembly and make a couple before heading back upstairs again.  A long time ago, he graduated to making them all on his own.  He is truly very good at it.  As he brought up making a basket again, I told him, “Sure, go ahead.  I’ve got just a few more things to do.”

No mom, I don’t want to build one by myself.  I want to build one with you.  You and me together.”

Josh and I's basket 2014 004There it was.  What I had grown aware of in other children, I now saw in my own son.  That longing to work together on a project that benefits someone else.  To be engaged together as a single team that produces something by both of our hands working towards the same goal:  making someone feel extra special.  While we can often do things alone, there’s something to be said for why God calls us together, to function together as His body…

I smiled, not lost to the lesson at hand.  As we began to assemble a boy basket, I wondered how many times he, too, longed to have my instruction, my affirmation and my time in this outreach as I have seen so many other children long for their parents’ attention and help?  He has always had my encouragement and approval to build, but my time…it is often spent with others…helping them learn, grow and build.  So as we worked through the system, I gave him the same that I give and hope for with any other child…my passion, my excitement, my instruction, my patience and my time.  And what I saw was what I see so many parents seemingly miss…the opportunity to truly understand just how thoughtful, caring and creative that young person is who God has graced us with in our lives.  As we got done, I was deeply impressed by his heart, his hands and his mind, and so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work together.

Thank You God for the reminders that this outreach has much to teach, offers so much to love, and reaches so much farther into the hearts of more than just those who are in physical and financial need…

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  Romans 12:4-5

Josh and I's basket 2014 006

Why we make Easter baskets…

January 2013 016

As I began to move stuff around in the basement prepping for 2014 Easter Basket Collection, I thought I’d share why we are smitten with this project.  Many wonder what drives us to make Easter baskets…and that, my friends, takes us back to the beginning.

It was late February of 2005 and we were contemplating what our next service project would be.  FBF was founded on the idea of believers coming together from all denominations to discuss and study His Word, to fellowship, and to put their faith into action by helping others.  Our first outreach had really surprised us, and we were eager to reach out and help again.

As we thought and prayed, the next holiday popped into our mind–Easter.  Ah, yes, we wanted to do something to honor Christ with our hands, feet and hearts because Easter is what believing is truly all about!

Looking around our homes, we realized that each of us had extra Easter baskets in our basements.  We began to wonder if maybe there was a need for Easter baskets for families struggling financially.  Realizing that there had to be other moms like us out there who would love to send their child’s extra stuffed animals, toys and books off to another, we contacted South Lyon’s local food pantry, Active Faith, to ask about making baskets for those in need in our community.

As I spoke to the director at that time, Carol, I asked if anyone–churches or businesses–helped their clients with Easter baskets at Easter time.  It turned out that no one had ever thought to, but she was sure they would be thrilled to have the help.  I asked her to look over their files and see how many kids they might serve.  A few days she called me back.  “Michelle, you are not going to believe this, but we could see potentially 400 children this Easter!”

Well, honestly, that was a tad bit overwhelming!  Our little group had imagined 35-40 baskets (and thought that would be a lot!), but 400…the first words out of my mouth were “Carol, I can’t promise anything…” followed by a bit of a pause…”but we can pray and you can pray, and we will see what God does.”  From there, we began to pray harder.  And thinking of the potential number,  we realized we might need some help.  So we put a little blurp in the community calendar section of the Herald and shared information about what we were doing with other organizations and churches.

St. Joe's March 11th 2013 042Sure enough, come distribution day, we had more than enough to cover their needs.  The excess is what led us out of South Lyon…needing to find homes for what wasn’t needed locally.  And while all those answers to our prayers were invigorating and exciting, it is not what drives us today.

It was an answer to a prayer that still humbles us…

And so, as we stood in the food pantry that evening passing out Easter baskets, there was a lull.  It was close to closing time, and a young mom, with two small children in tow, came through the doors.  To help you see a visual, the food pantry was laid out like a course where a volunteer helped the recipient pick out their food choices.  At the end, after they had shopped, stood our Easter baskets.  We were blessed to be asked to help give them out.  From where we stood, we could see the whole process.

There she stood, at the beginning, with her eyes transfixed on the baskets.  The volunteer could barely keep her attention.  Because it was a small place, we could see and hear the whole process.  Her two children had been shuffled off to a reading room not too far away, and eventually, she arrived at our first volunteer who had been instructed to ask her if she needed baskets and for what ages and gender.  As she gave the information, she interrupted with the question, “Who has done this?”  Because it was and is a community effort, our volunteer was instructed to say just that…not identifying FBF or any one group.

That wasn’t a sufficient answer for her and she became determined to know who had done this.  Beleaguered, the volunteer finally sent her to me as I stood at the end of the baskets.  I politely and kindly explained again that it was a community-wide effort and was there something I could help her with?  She shared that she really wanted to express her gratitude in a thank you card and needed that information.  I directed her to send it to Active Faith and that they would pass it along.  While this seemed to satisfy her, she asked me and the volunteer next to me if we could watch her cart of food while she hid the baskets in the trunk of her car so that her kids would not see them.  We smiled broadly and answered, “Absolutely!  Take your time; we understand!”

A few minutes later she returned.  Instead of getting her cart, she approached the two of us and what she said has driven this outreach ever since…you see, we thought we were honoring Him with what we were doing, but humbly we found out He was honoring us in allowing us to be a part of He was doing…

March 8th 2013 023It was the first time she had ever been to a food pantry in her life.  It was the worst year in their life.  She had been struggling for months to make ends meet, and about 6 weeks before that moment, she had started to realize that they would not likely be able to afford Easter baskets for their kids.  She tried to scrimp and save but no matter how hard she tried, there was just no money.  About two weeks before that night, she had to accept–after looking at her check book–that there was no way they would have baskets, and she prayed asking God to somehow, some way help with Easter baskets.  Nightly, she laid awake fretting over the sight of her two children on Easter morning with nothing for them to open or find.  Then her mind raced to the first day back to school after Easter vacation when their kids would hear other children talking of what the Easter bunny had brought them.  She feared and agonized over the shame and disappointment that would fall upon their hearts realizing they had somehow been left out.

From the depth of her soul, she just wanted to say thank you.  “Thank you for being an answer to a prayer!”

And I stood there, we stood there, with tears brimming in our eyes trying to stay composed but utterly touched to the core by her story.  While we had hoped to help others, never once did I imagine that we would actually see God move in such a powerful way…answering prayers through this outreach.  Her words, her awe that she had walked into that room–that food pantry for the first time–and there sat Easter baskets for her children…

that He had answered her prayers…

…and ours…

Those memories are what drive us onward, understanding and trusting that God is often doing something so much more amazing than we can comprehend…

Please join us in praying that His will be done through FBF and willing hands, feet and hearts this Easter 2014.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:9-10

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

As we quickly move into January, we are excited about our upcoming Easter Basket Collection.  This is an annual outreach for us dating back to FBF’s first year (hard to believe that was so long ago!).  Now it might sound a little early to be speaking of Easter as it falls on Sunday, April 20th, but what we do takes a lot of prep, time and effort so that area children and adults-in-need can receive an Easter basket come that wonderful morning!

While we do plan on taking a break from the Christmas rush, by mid-January, we hope to have up some of our on-line databases that will house the dates and times you can help volunteer.  The dates for January and February are already listed in our January newsletter, which you can find here:  January 2014   We hope to have more details posted soon.  But until then, we pray that you will hold this outreach in your prayers.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  2 Corinthians 13:14

FBF Weekly News

Events

  • Saturday, October 26th, 10:30-noon, Sorting at the Murphy’s.  We will be sorting through any clothing and blankets donations getting them ready to be sent out.  We will also be assembling toiletry bags for the homeless.
  • Friday, November 1st, 9-11am, Bible Study.  For more information, please contact us at familiesbuildingfaith@yahoo.com

Releases

Praises

  • For the help that came in last Friday and Saturday that has brought us up to speed on all of our current collections.
  • Praises and thanks for all the beautiful children’s clothing that has come in as well as how organized and clean everything was.  It truly helped us a lot!
  • Praises for excited kids who helped flyer a little bit of Trotter’s Pointe for a cupcake :)
  • Praises for the doors that have been opened to reach students in need here in South Lyon.
  • Praises for all the blankets and pillows that have come in!  They will be going out early on Friday so that they can be handed out to the homeless on Saturday.  PBJ Outreach is very excited!!
  • Praises for those who think of us often and are faithful in helping us help others!
  • Praises for a senior center in Ortonville who is always thinking of ways to help us reach those in need.
  • Praises for our printer that he is so kind to us and our printing needs!
  • Praises for our supportive families!
  • Praises for the beautiful month of October.
  • Praises for the colors we are blessed to see this week!
  • Praises for the sweetness of apples, the crispness in the air and for the warmth that is available to us.

Prayers

  • Russ.  Please pray asking God to help him with good doctors, thorough testing, and a slow down in his memory decline.
  • Mary Ann.  Please pray asking God to open the eyes and ears of doctors, to grant them wisdom, and for help with her health.
  • Joann.  Please ask for pain relief, faithfulness, and trust.
  • Linda.  Special prayers for pain relief, honest answers, and eager and willing love and support.
  • Anthony.  Special prayers for peace, acceptance, trust and faith.
  • For a man that he might see the Light and be blinded by His majesty such that his life is drastically changed to the glory of God and to the joy of those who love him most.
  • For a marriage that needs softened hearts, abundant grace, His hope and renewed trust and love.  May they be open to God and each other allowing Him to bring healing to their lives.
  • For FBF’s blanket drive that God help those hearts that want to give find the time to deliver in the next week.  Special prayers that those who receive the blankets be comforted and warmed this winter season.
  • For FBF’s Warm the Kids clothing drive, may God open doors and hearts to pass along clothing to warm the kids this winter season.  May He nudge them to go through their drawers and bring it over before November 1st.
  • For FBF’s Santa Helpers outreach, please pray asking God to move the hearts of those that would like to be a part of our program to bring their applications with them next week or send them in so that they can be included on the list.
  • For flyering, please ask God to help us spread the word regarding our Christmas outreaches.  Special prayers asking for help in flyering local neighborhoods, businesses and places.
  • For FBF’s leadership–asking God for strength, faithfulness, humility, grace and wisdom.

“Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them–not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.” 

~Hosea 1:7

FBF’S Weekly News

Events

  • Tuesday, October 15th, 4:45-5:45pm, Sandwich Making.  We come together at the Murphy’s to build sandwiches for the homeless.  There’s still room if you are interested!
  • Friday, October 18th, 8:45-11:00am, Unfolding God’s Word (FBF’s Bible study).  We will be discussing Scripture that helps us better define the things we value and what we fear.  For more information, please feel free to contact us at familiesbuildingfaith@yahoo.com.
  • Friday, October 18th, 11:30-1pm, Clothing & Blanket Assembly.  We will be working on sorting clothing and assembling blankets bags that have been coming in.  If you need directions to the Murphy’s, please email us at the email listed above.

        Links to FBF’s signups through Sign Up Genius:

                        Sandwich Making Sign Up Link

                        Sorting & Assembly Sign Up Link

Collections

  • Blankets, Pillows & Flashlight Collection is still running!  We are looking for blankets, pillows and flashlights that you may no longer need.  Please make sure everything is clean and in good condition.  Flashlights will need a fresh pair of batteries.  We can also use snack and toiletry items to place in their personal care bags that will go into their blanket bags.  These items will be going to the homeless in Detroit.  The collection deadline is October 31st!
  • Warm the Kids Clothing Drive has begun!  We are collecting children’s clothing (fall and winter apparel) through the month of October.  We will take sizes preschool through young adult (8th grade).  Elementary clothes will be going to a school in Flint with 100% poverty rating, which means every student lives below the poverty line.  It is in one very tough neighborhood.  Clothing for the upper sizes will be donated to a local middle school here in South Lyon that is in the process of opening a clothing closet for their students.  They are also willing to take shoes, belts, accessories and feminine products.  This collection’s deadline is November 1st.
  • Please note that FBF is not a 501c3, which means you cannot write us off on your taxes.  If you would like a receipt for any of your items, please create an itemized list along with your contact information.  If the place receiving your items can give a receipt, we will have them send you one.  If a receipt is a must-have for you please contact us ahead of time to see if receiving one is a possibility before dropping off your items.

Releases

Prayers

  • Russ, in mid-60’s, who has stage 4 esophageal cancer.  Special prayers for excellent pain management, the ability to think clearly and trust God in today and the days ahead, and for peace that transcends the desire to know why.
  • Janice as she grapples with the trauma and loss of a loved one.  Prayers for peace, release, understanding and most of all, hope.
  • For our government as we approach the Debt-Ceiling deadline.  Prayers in earnest for their hearts to succumb to the Holy Spirit and wisdom of God that can best guide our country.  Prayers for both sides of the aisle that they humble themselves, pray, and turn from their own issues seeking His face and His grace for the sake of our land.
  • For all the countries were fighting and bloodshed are common, may God grant the innocent and oppressed the means to escape and flee.  Prayers that hearts be softened to Him, that hands and feet move to follow Him, and that courage and power overcome those hearts willing to do His will.  May hearts surrendered to Him step up to lead those too afraid, too hurt, and too confused so that oppression, abuse and tyranny shall fall.  Let us pray for their humility and meekness so that pride does not make them fall along the way.
  • For our children.  Special prayers asking God to build them to model His character, His heart and His compassion so that the world may become a much better place.
  • For FBF’s current outreaches.  Please ask God to open doors, move hearts and bring all that is needed to reach those He wants to be reached.  Special prayers for strength, steadfast, and happy volunteers to help as we process through what is brought.
  • For FBF’s Christmas outreaches.  Please ask God to soften hearts to the idea that simple things can bring a message of love and hope, for minds and hands willing to encourage another, and for trust and faith to grow throughout the season of advent.

Praises

  • Praises for a steadfast woman who comes almost weekly to drop off items.  Special prayers that God encourage her and grant her peace and happiness.
  • Praises for all the donations that are coming in!  The piles are beginning to grow.  We have been blessed by many faithfully organizing their items in advance.
  • Praises for the doors God has opened in our local community so that we may reach out to those in need here.
  • Praises for the delivery of school supplies this week to 3 schools.  It seemed to hardly move the pile of school supplies even though their bags and boxes were filled to capacity and heavy!
  • Praises for God’s Word, His instruction and His way!
  • Praises for the beautiful weather and even the rainy, cool days!!
  • Praises that windows can still be opened for much of the day…

“Many women were there, watching from a distance.  They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs.”  ~Matthew 27:55

FBF Weekly News

Events

  • It’s a quiet week this week!  There’s nothing on the agenda.  Our Bible study will be meeting the following week.

Released

Prayers

  • Russ, mid-60s.  He has been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer.  Please hold him close in his prayers asking that God help him and his family to draw closer with the time he has remaining.
  • Special prayers for those who God needs to love and take care of those who are sick.  May God grant them wisdom, humility, strength, courage, hope and steadfastness.  May they be willing to receive help as well as they give it.
  • Special prayers on behalf of all those in circumstances beyond their control, may their hearts seek Him with all that they are; may their hope be renewed; and their needs met with doors opening in ways that help them to see He is with them.
  • For families coming to terms with the loss of beloved family member; special prayers for resiliency, hope and courage.
  • Prayers for FBF’s Blanket, Pillow & Flashlight Collection throughout the month of October.  Please pray asking God to open eyes to the drive and for pliable hearts to pass along warm blankets that can comfort the homeless.
  • Prayers for Warm the Kids’ Clothing Collection as it begins.  Please pray that God grant us success so that we may help a school in South Lyon as well as a school in Flint.
  • Prayers for our Christmas outreaches that God open doors, eyes and ears to those that need to be encouraged, those who can encourage, and those who are filled with joy.  Prayers for strength, willingness, eagerness and hearts that love Him.

Praises

  • Praises for the many school supplies that have come in.
  • Praises for the doors that have open for us to supply our local schools with school supplies.  An extra measure of praise for the doors opening to the middle schools.
  • Praises for the faithfulness of so many.
  • Praises for the blankets and clothing that have been coming in.
  • Praises for the Herald’s Community Calendar section.
  • Praises for a bunch of birthday bags that came in for the mission and Flint school from a Christian school 2nd’s grade class :)
  • Praises for these beautiful fall days.
  • Praises for the glory of the colors of autumn.

“Freely free you have received, freely give.”  ~Matthew 10:8

FBF Weekly News

Events

  • Tuesday, September 17th, 4:45-6pm, we’ve got sandwich making going on!
  • Contact us for Bible Study date as there is a chance it will be moved from traditional day for this week.

Released

Here are three new links for events coming up this fall and holiday season.  More will be released next week!

B, P & F’s Snack Collection

FBF’s Fall & Holiday Sort & Assembly Opportunities

Prayers

  • Prayers for Don & his family as they contemplate health concerns of a loved one.
  • Prayers for John & his family that their eyes be open to the path God wants them to take and that they move towards healing in their household, finances, spiritual life, and love for one another.
  • Prayers for a family that lost a loved one suddenly this week.  Prayers for patience as the pain and grief surge, for faith to ride out the storm, and for trust that can make it through the days of grief ahead.
  • Prayers for a young lady that God calm her heart, help her to process the concerns before her, and that she turn to Him letting Him guide her on how to find healing.
  • Prayers for Kathy for open eyes, a willing heart, and change.
  • Continued prayers for all of those that we have been  holding in prayer.

Spot for individual prayer requests

Spot for prayers for FBF

Praises

  • Praises for the many school supplies that came in this week!  Thanks be to God and all who dropped off!!
  • Praises for the reminder of summer and the refreshing touch of the coming fall.
  • Praises for the blankets that have begun to come in; please keep praying.
  • Praises for inspiration for next spring!

“But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”  John 3:21